Healthcare: Inevitable or Impossible?

More

Jonathan Bernstein says that healthcare can't fail:


At this point, the main basis I have for believing the health care reform bill will pass (here's my latest while I was at the Dish...for perspective, here's Jonathan clubber Chait's view, and here's Nate Silver's take) is that I would be shocked if Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Henry Waxman moved things to this stage without knowing they could get the votes. We're talking about some very skilled pols, here.

I can't think of any historical precedent for a failure this large in a House vote -- a major policy with the full support of the president and the majority party leadership that got this close without winning. The two most notable floor defeats that I remember are the first vote on TARP in fall 2008, and the vote (if I recall correctly) on the rule on the Bush deficit reduction package in 1990. In both cases, radical Republicans defected from a bipartisan agreement, in both cases between majority Democrats and a Republican president. And in both cases the policy eventually passed.

Meanwhile, Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute takes her own look back at history:

"The public mood is generally sour," Bowman said. "I can't think of any other big piece of legislation that had so much opposition" and later passed, she said.

They're both right!  Where does that leave us?  At a defining moment in American legislative history . . . the Mothra v. Godzilla, irresistable force v. immovable object, rock v. hard place of policymaking.  It can't pass and it can't fail.  Yet it must do one or the other.

All I can say is, pass the popcorn.


Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In